State Representative Leslie Combs’ goal of increasing financing opportunities for Kentucky’s major construction projects cleared a key hurdle on Thursday, March 6 when the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee voted for her legislation.
“In an era of declining revenues, especially from the federal government, we have to consider all options when it comes to improving our infrastructure,” said Combs, a Pikeville legislator who chairs the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation. “Otherwise, I worry that we will not be able to give our communities what they need to thrive in the years ahead.About half of the states already have this option available to them; it’s time Kentucky joins them.”
This legislation would make it possible for state and local governments to form public-private partnerships to build such things as bridges that cost in the billions of dollars.
“This won’t take away from these governments’ responsibilities in approving and contributing to these projects, but it will give them another alternative to move forward when it otherwise might not be possible,” Combs said. “It’s another tool in our toolbox.”
Her House Bill 407 has 25 co-sponsors from both parties, including all five House leaders, and is expected to be voted on by the full House early next week. It also has the backing of such organizations as the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which testified in favor of the bill during today’s meeting.
Chamber President Dave Adkisson said that “this is a way forward where the private community can be called on to help achieve the public good.”
Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock also spoke in favor of Rep. Combs’ bill, and she noted that the University of Kentucky has already moved ahead with a public-private partnership to build a new wave of dormitories.
“Projects like that may be just the tip of the iceberg, and this legislation would improve opportunities for projects for our state and local governments,” Combs said. “I think it has the potential to significantly improve Kentucky’s infrastructure in the years ahead. The first step, though, is getting this bill signed into law before the legislative session ends next month.”